Skip to main content

Chancellor’s Fund Invests in Cutting-edge COVID-19 Antibody Tests

COVID-19 antibody tests can cost hundreds of dollars and take hours to process. Today’s commercial assays require skilled personnel to run — costing as much as $1,000 per kit and taking between six and nine hours to yield results. Fortunately, the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund (CIF) is investing in a solution.

Stef Menegatti
Michael Daniele

Stefano Menegatti, an associate professor and University Faculty Scholar, in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Michael Daniele, an associate professor with dual appointments in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill’s Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, have developed a “dual affinity ratiometric quenching” (DARQ) assay, which aims to reduce testing turnaround time to as little as two minutes, as well as significantly lower costs — to less than $2 per test. A “simple mix-and-read” assay, Menegatti and Daniele’s technology would be ideal for both rapid testing at doctor’s offices and analytical staff in clinical or biopharmaceutical labs. The assay is also flexible. Future versions are being developed to address other antigens, which could expand the DARQ diagnostics’ reach to cancer, autoimmune diseases and degenerative disorders.

CIF support will be used to further product development with their co-inventors, graduate students Katie Kilgour and Brendan Turner. The team will produce DARQ kits for beta testing, which will include validating that the DARQ assay quantifies anti-Sars-CoV-2 antibodies in patient samples, scaling up the assay’s manufacturing, and evaluating the DARQ’s consistency and shelf-life.

See other recipients of the CIF award.